United Airlines Allegedly Tells Mom To Go Pump In A Room Meant For Pooping Service Dogs (Yes, Really)
Working mom Elizabeth Meagher Cooper is seriously P.O.'d after the way she claims she was treated at Dulles International Airport in Virginia on Monday. And as her story continues to spread, so is the rest of the Internet. The Newton, Massachusetts mom was on a recent business trip — the first trip she's taken since giving birth to her son four months ago — when she stopped for a layover and couldn't find a place to pump. According to Boston's WHDH, Cooper was allegedly directed to pump in United Airlines' "pet relief room" for service dogs (a.k.a. a dog poop room) when she asked a United employee for a private place. Bustle has reached out to United for comment, but an email to the airline was not immediately returned.
United Airlines did issue the following statement to Boston's Fox 25, though:
Although many of the airport terminals where we operate do not have dedicated private spaces, we welcome nursing mothers to breastfeed or pump on our aircraft and in our facilities. We are reaching out to Ms. Cooper to apologize that we weren't able to provide her more suitable accommodations.
The room, as it appears in the photo photo Cooper uploaded to Twitter, is pretty tiny, and features AstroTurf and a red rubber "fire hydrant." A sign outside the door bears what appears to be the silhouette of a dog and is clearly marked "Pet Relief Area." As for Cooper's reaction? "I was horrified," the new mom told WHDH Byron Barnett. When she balked at the alleged offer, Cooper claims the employee then offered to upgrade her to the people bathroom. But as Cooper later told Barnett, "Bathrooms are unsanitary. If you're not gonna eat a sandwich there, you're not gonna pump breast milk for your baby! It's ridiculous!"
United Airlines does have a "family room" inside its private lounge at Dulles, according to its website. But since Cooper isn't a club member, she claims she was not permitted to pump in there. Instead, the mom claims to have ended up pumping in the middle of the terminal, by a gate. (And if you've ever pumped in public before, then you know how uncomfortable, tricky, and downright embarrassing it can be.)
Unsurprisingly, Cooper's story has made the rounds on Twitter in the last few days, and elicited its fair share of responses.
WHDH notes that Cooper's local airport, Logan International in Boston, does have private accommodations for pumping and nursing, as do many other airports and businesses run by companies. But the truth is that not enough do. More than anything, Cooper's story, if true, brings to light the ongoing struggles breastfeeding and pumping moms face every day in an effort to feed their babies while out in the world.
Image: David Precious/Flickr